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A Letter From A Home-Schooling Mom

03/21/2016 02:57 EDT | Updated 03/22/2017 05:12 EDT
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Woman teaching her daughter

School moms, I don't know how you do it.

You know, the rumours about home-schooling moms are true: there are days where I don't get out of my pyjamas. On those days, my kids and I snuggle up on the couch with tea and a blanket and our lesson books. We leisurely read about kings and queens and islands and earthquakes and I never once give thought to putting on grown-up pants. Of course, there are other PJ-filled days where I drink six cups of coffee before lunch and the kids binge-watch The Magic School Bus on Netflix and I count that as a science lesson. And also a geography lesson. The bus goes places, right?

Not us, though. We don't go anywhere -- at least, not first thing in the morning.

But you do! I see you all walking your kids to school while I'm still in a housecoat. You somehow manage to drag your kids out of bed and then feed them and dress them and groom them enough to meet the generally accepted level of hygiene, and you do this all before 9:00 a.m.

I can confidently say that this is simply beyond my skill level as a parent.

This past week was March Break and we put my eight-year-old in a local day camp. She had the most wonderful time hiking through the woods and sliding in the mud and roasting marshmallows around a fire. I'm so glad that we signed her up. But getting her there in the morning?

It almost killed me.

Every morning for a week, I dragged my weary self out of the bed so that I could get my equally bleary-eyed child up for the day. Then we both kind of wandered around zombie-like, looking for coffee and Cheerios.

While my daughter picked at her cereal, I started to pack her lunch. Packing lunches is horrible. HORRIBLE. My daughter is a picky eater at the best of times, but trying to find foods that she'll eat out of a lunch box is a special kind of terrible. I suspect it's punishment for all the times that I refused to eat my mother's homemade Lunchables as a kid and insisted on the prepackaged kind that cost twice as much.

But my daughter won't eat meat, cheese or crackers, so I had to come up with something else. Actually, I thought I had it nailed at first. I went to the grocery store on Sunday evening and bought all the things that I thought she would eat. Gluten-free pretzels. Drinkable yogurt. Gluten-free cookies. Gluten-free bagel chips. Gluten-free lemon loaf, which is as close to a sandwich as my daughter will accept. All daughter-approved and lunch box-friendly.

Then, late on Sunday night as I re-read the camp letter, I saw the words "nut-free." Oh yeah... We quickly grabbed all the packages. Nothing had nuts in it but several items were made in nut-friendly facilities. Which means they're not allowed.

With a sigh, I took the wafers and the cookies out of her lunch and figured that I'd just make popcorn in the morning. Popcorn is a grain, right? It is in my house. Besides, it doesn't even matter. I have no illusion that my child is actually going to eat anything I send -- it's all for show. Honestly, I should just buy a plastic play salad to stick in her lunch and then just reuse it as needed.

On the Monday morning, after the first lunch was packed and a handful of Cheerios were eaten, we were ready to go. At least, that's what I thought until I realized that I was still in my pyjamas. Ugh! I had to get dressed too? Fine, but I drew the line at brushing my hair.

Or my daughter's hair. I don't think I remembered to brush it the whole week. Home-schooled kids are notorious for their messy hair. Or maybe I'm the only one that notices? I always check out other kids' hairstyles when I'm out at events because I want to make sure that my kids' hair isn't the worst of the bunch. It actually is -- but not by much -- and I'm happy to make the other moms feel better about their own parenting.

You have other kids to deal with all day long -- some of you even go through this whole ritual every morning and then go to work!

Now, I should say that some kids in our home-school groups do have lovely hair, even braids, but I just naturally assume that it's because their moms have three kids or less. I know, I know -- I have three kids or less. But I'm just barely competent half the time, so that's automatically like having seven kids. And anyway, most of our outings are to a forest of some sort. I figure that if my kids get separated from the group, coyotes will be less likely to eat a feral-looking child and instead raise her as part of the pack. Really, it's a security measure.

So with squeaky-clean but messy hair, I got my child to camp. I'm almost certain that her socks matched every day, and I'm holding on to that one small success.

Then I returned home to spend my mornings leisurely wrestling magic markers away from my toddler. No chance to rest! And school moms, I know this is true for you. You have other kids to deal with all day long -- some of you even go through this whole ritual every morning and then go to work! It boggles my mind.

Honestly, if it didn't mean leaving the house before 9:00 a.m., I'd be outside with little cups of Gatorade to pass out as you rush past my house during your morning marathon.

You're always telling me that you don't know how I do it all, but it should be the other way around! You're amazing! I can't imagine how you manage to get your kids to school every single day. I'm serious -- teaching long division is nothing compared to this.

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